A perfect metaphor for anything you want it to be for

So, so, yeah.

So, yeah.

Shropshire's a nice place, can't deny that. Fantastic place for walking, and checking out all things 'quaint'. Probably the kind of place that people say Oh, yes, I could raise a family here, or Very good for children, excellent schools, or, I think I'd like to grow old here. But I know a large number of people my age who had previously moved away from Shropshire like they couldn't get out of the place fast enough - and where are they now? They're all back here, licking their London wounds and playing with their big city scabs.

I'm one to talk, obviously. It's taken my probably about eight years too long to make the leap and move away, and I've only done it for a certain number of years anyway by going to university; there's no proof yet that I'll not come back to The Shire after university. In fact, unless I land some great job pretty soon after my education ends, I most definitely will have to come back home. And that will feel rubbish, I know it will. It currently has its moments of not being very good anyway; I'm jobless with very little chance of anything turning up any time soon, and this leaves me with too much time to dwell on what I'm doing with myself, my future and my money.

I know that the harshest judge how I conduct myself during this unbelievably precious and rare period of absolute free time is me. I often fear that it could be my parents, or the more judgemental of my piercingly non-judgemental friends, but no - it's me. So, in order to keep myself occupied, I've been trying to be creative, and stop my brain cells turning to shitty blancmange.

Below are some picture I took at Mitchell's Fold, a stone circle where last year some friends and I burned the wicker man we built the summer before. This place is a good indication of the sort of magic Shropshire often surprises me with:

I like how in the final picture, the larger stone to the left almost looks like a figure creeping towards the camera. Or maybe that's just me..

What I have also found myself doing to make the days pass in a worthwhile manner is make sure that each day there's something to look forward to. I'm pretty sure that for a long time before I came to Canterbury, my days were not filled with at least one pleasurable event. Work had fiercely dried up and was dull, and everything else was profoundly repetitive. I am in fear that, if I don't stay positive here, the same will happen again.. and yet, it couldn't really, because even if I do absolutely nothing with my summer here, at least I have Canterbury to look forward to going back to. Ah, Canterbury, thou golden chalice of learning and student discount.

Here's some stuff happening soon to stop me from banging on like this: Ayumi is coming tomorrow, and next week we're going camping in the Lake District. I've never been there, but it all looks very nice and well lakey. Ayumi wants to check out the Beatrix Potter attractions whilst we're there, so we'll do that also. I also joined the National Trust (showing my age) so I intend to take day excursions out to different places with that, especially the supposedly haunted ones. Or the ones with the best cafes.

Been doing a fair bit of running recently. I am continuing to use the track around, then up, Earls Hill, but I've also made evening use of the running field next to Mary Webb school over the road. Using a track is functional and not particularly scenic, but that's fine sometimes. As long as I have music, it's alright.

I've also been attempting to read regularly. Re-read The Great Gatsby (1925) the other day. Such a completely perfect and incredibly book. I think because of my first year at Kent, I've also gained a hunger for finding out more about the back stories behind novels, so I greatly enjoyed reading the somewhat lengthy introduction to the edition I have as well.

I think one of the reasons the book is still so good is the way that it analyses America still resonates strongly. In recent times, I have noticed an obsession with America (equally from both Americans and non-Americans) that is cosmetic and absolute. I don't just mean obvious things like fashion or music or cinema, but just an air of how cool is America? and an endless stream of people doing American accents or immitating Americans (as if there is just one American way of speaking). To me, the USA seems to be the epitome of the grass is greener to a lot of people. People are placing a lot of desire and admiration on a place that is just a place, and not even basing that admiration on any kind of truth; Yeah, but America's got better weather/cars/houses/laws/taxes/schools and all those tired excuses for people not actually focusing on what they really need in life, or what can be found around them wherever they happen to live. There is a sheen to America that catches many a foreign eye. America, the product, is incredibly well designed and knows how to speak to the customer. Don't get me wrong, I'm no patriot - I'm not pro-any specific country - but I'm also not dazzled by one place just because it's not where I was born or where I live.

A few too many dreary summers, or bad relationships, or school yard-induced bitterness, or job dissatisfaction, or alienation from family and friends has made many a person mindlessly idealistic when it comes to America. The place we see utterly dominating the airwaves, and the magazines, and the cinema and the coffee table talk. And now, this completely empty symbol of.. of.. whatever it is (MTV cool? Hollywood socialising? Great sex? Acceptance no matter what you look like (yeah, right)) has made people forget how to make themselves happy.

But as the owl-eyed man in the library challenges Nick Carraway, when he discovers that Gatsby's socialite facade goes as far as stocking his library with hundreds of real, actual books..

What do you want?

What do you expect?

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